Stressed? Experts share strategies for mental well-being amid pandemic

If your stress levels are up right now, you’re certainly not alone. Health concerns, stay at home orders, financial struggles – the list can go on. 

Even a leisurely stroll can take careful planning with social distancing guidelines.

“We decided not to walk around the lake yesterday because it was going to be more crowded,” said resident Mike Miller.

It can all feel like a lot right now, but experts say that is completely normal.

“Realize a little fear and anxiety is actually healthy right now because if none of us were scared, we won’t be taking this seriously and staying home, and that would have detrimental effects,” said Megan Voss of the University of Minnesota’s Center for Spirituality and Healing.

Voss says there are things that will get us through the isolation and anxiety.

“Looking for the good every day, whether it’s something that gives you purpose, like checking in on a friend,” she said.

She recommends exercising, getting outdoors and looking for ways to do good each day.

“Remembering social distancing is really just physical distancing, but we can stay socially connected, and that can help mitigate some of those fears,” said Voss.

Some of those fears are keeping people up at night.

“I’m getting a lot of patient calls and concerns about worsening stress, anxiety, sleep patterns,” said Dr. Tacjana Friday, a neurologist sleep specialist from the Noran Neurological Clinic.

Sleep experts, like Dr. Friday, say it’s all about a schedule.

“I would encourage people to try to find some routine in their daytime, nighttime to try to help with their mental health and sleep patterns,” said Dr. Friday.

It’s also important to find ways to wind down in order to keep up with all we are dealing with in the day.

“I would encourage people the hour or two before bed [to use] relaxation techniques, reading, relaxing music, meditation sometimes even journaling can help relieve some of those worries,” said Dr. Friday.

Both health professionals stressed it can be tough right now to be so isolated and deal with such big routine changes, but it’s for the greater good, and social distancing will save lives.